A Model for Corporate Learning Environments

Continuing my discussion about learning curves (on the E-Learning Curve Blog, appropriately), I’m making a case for the assertion that learning curves are a very adaptable way to investigate a range of ideas about learning and teaching: for example, in corporate learning environments. I have shown how the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy can be mapped to a curve. Last time I began to outline how Klein and Eseryel’s Framework for a Corporate Learning Environment (2006) aligns with the learning curve concept, a thread I’m picking up today.

Framework for corporate learning environments

Framework for corporate learning environments (After Klein & Eseryl, 2006)

According to the authors,

The construct of a mental model and the corresponding scenarios used to develop them can be a unifying concept in designing the overall learning environment.


Citing Senge (1990) and Edmondson (2003) they support the idea that effective teamwork “depends” (p.9) on a shared mental model or schema. I would agree with their assertion that workers’ mentally construct and “run” mental models in performing a wide range of knowledge-intensive tasks.

Galamos (1986) considers that people construct knowledge in a linear fashion, based upon the information available to them; similar to Mayer’s Multimedia Learning Theory knowledge workers’ capacity to process information is contingent on their ability to process information on a meaningful fashion. This Constructivist view of learning, and particularly Bruner’s concept of instructional scaffolding should be an integral part of any organization’s learning framework, where – the learner’s current level of knowledge can be described as an edifice that represents their cognitive abilities. Mayes and de Freitas (JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study Stage 2: Review of e learning theories, frameworks and models, 2005) describe the scaffolding as “a means of exploiting the ZPD” (p.19).

The cognitive scaffold surrounds what is already known and can be done: the New is built on top of the Known as the learner’s skills and expertise develops. Over time the supports can be “removed” as the learner becomes capable of independently actualizing the knowledge, behavior or skill. Each new learned knowledge asset becomes a level in the learner’s constructed schema. In turn, this becomes the foundation for extending the learner’s ongoing development.

Klein and Eseryel continue:

The various elements of the learning environment should be focused on helping people construct coherent models. The knowledge worker is swamped with vast amounts of information and is in a constant mode of learning. The learning environment must help them mentally stitch together knowledge from multiple sources.

(p. 10)

As discussed in my last blog post, organizations’ learning environments typically consist of systems to manage and support:

  • cohesive team management
  • knowledge generation and sharing
  • performance support
  • document storage and retrieval
  • on-demand learning
  • traditional training

…whether formally, non-formally, or non-formally.

The authors assert that these systems can be configured into a process that they call “knowledge assembly” (p.10) in which

people make sense of what is happening by assembling information into a coherent whole.


In Klein and Eseryel ‘s view, training must establish the “base mental models” (p.10) on which a person can then learn subsequent knowledge through elaboration. For example, knowledge management techniques can be designed to facilitate the development of mental models of complex processes and procedures. Similarly, documentation must provide structured information that enables the person to develop deeper models as they need to learn more details, and team development and coordination methods should be designed to support the building of individual schemata and shared mental models.

More next time…



de Freitas, S. & Mayes, T. (2005). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study Stage 2: Review of e learning theories, frameworks and models. [Internet] London, JISC. Available from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Stage%202%20Learning%20Models%20(Version%201).pdf [Accessed 15th August 2017]

Edmondson, A.C. (2003). Framing for learning: Lessons in successful technology implementation. California Management Review, 45(2), 34-54.

Galamos, J.A. (1986). Knowledge structures. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Klein, J. Eseryel, D. (2005). The Corporate Learning Environment. [Internet] Available from: https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/corporate-learning-environment/24410 [Accessed February 18th 2017]

Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline. New York: Doubleday/Currency.